Amazon has opened its first non-food store outside America, in the United Kingdom: an Amazon 4-star branch can now be found in Greenhithe, near London.
Local selection of bestsellers
The American internet giant has opened the first non-US branch of its 4-Star shopping concept in the Bluewater shopping centre in Greenhithe, Kent. Within the United States, Amazon has already more than thirty branches of the concept - basically a physical showroom for the platform's best-rated products. The curated assortment consists of 2,000 items, all of which have received at least four stars in customer ratings on the website. The most popular and best-rated products selection includes books, consumer electronics, toys, games and household items, and the offer is also supposed to be constantly updated.
The selection varies based on the popularity and preferences of local shoppers and reflects what Amazon shoppers buy online. For instance, a "Most Wished For" section shows the most popular products on customers' wish lists, other sections show the most popular gifts or the most searched (trending) for products in the area.
A store for e-commerce
The branch will also have a large tech section with Amazon devices such as Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets and Echo Dots. According to Natalie Berg, author of a book on the e-commerce giant, that is one of the main functions of the retail format: not necessarily to sell more products, but to lure consumers into Amazon's ecosystem.
"It's about getting shoppers to engage with Amazon's devices, reminding Prime customers of the value in their memberships, and offering additional choice when it comes to collection and returns of online orders", the retail expert told the BBC. The physical store paradoxically wants to encourage online shopping above all else.
The retailer is not yet willing to say how many of these stores are coming to the UK. However, the appointment of Andy Jones as director of Amazon 4-star UK suggests that this store will not be the only one. Still, Berg is not yet convinced of the success: she finds the 4-Star shops somewhat muddled and uninspiring, so it remains to be seen what British consumers will think of them.